There is a special custom related to eating and drinking on the day of Diwali, about which few people would probably know. Eating elephant foot yam or suran or jimmikand or somewhere kand is considered very auspicious in many sects on this day. Every vegetable seller in the market definitely keeps it three-four days before Diwali. In ancient times, sages and sages lived a healthy life for a hundred years by eating only the root of the roots while living in the forests. While in many parts of North India, jimmikand is considered auspicious to be eaten on the day of Diwali as the fruit of Goddess Lakshmi, in a tribal festival in Ghana, the tuber is worshiped as a food of happiness and prosperity.
Since this vegetable is not even pleasant to look at and when eaten, it churns in the throat. But since this vegetable was prepared on Diwali, then it had to be eaten. The elders used to say that on this day jimmikand will not be eaten, in the next life a mole will be born. It is being eaten thinking that it should not become a mole. Teaching the younger ones to eat jimmikand as well.
But did you know what is this suran or yam or jimmikand? Elephant yam is commonly known as suran or jimmikand; an herbaceous, tropical perennial tuber C3 crop. Its scientific name is Amorphophallus paeoniifolius and belongs to the family Araceae. Because of its production potential and popularity as a vegetable in various cuisines, it can be raised as a cash crop. It is basically a crop of Southeastern Asian countries. In India, it is cultivated in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand states whereas in northern and eastern states, the wild, local cultivars grown are generally used for making vegetable pickles and medicine preparations for various ailments. The crop is also cultivated as intercrop along with turmeric and under coconut or in banana. In recent years, farmers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have also begun cultivation, under improved cultural practices and high-yielding varieties the production potential of this crop varies between 30 and 100 t ha-1and the net profit (economic return) is about 2000 - 3000 US$ per ha. This crop also offers export potential in India since it is not commercially cultivated in other countries in India, Sree Padma, Gajendra, Sree Athira (a hybrid), Bidhan Kusum and NDA-9 are some of the high-yielding taro varieties released for cultivation. The corms are usually eaten as a vegetable after boiling or baking and are rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. The leaves are used as a vegetable by local tribes in India because they contain a high concentration of vitamin A. The tubers of elephant yam are extremely acrid and irritate the mouth and throat because of excessive calcium oxalate content.
Different parts of elephant yam may have potential properties like; it may increase the motility of the gastrointestinal tract, can have flatulence relieving properties, may possess cytotoxic properties (killing cancer cells), may show antibacterial and antifungal activity, it may possess properties that may prevent liver damage, antioxidant properties, potential astringent, may possess anti-inflammatory properties and help against parasitic worms, etc. Along with these properties it is also having tremendous potential uses for overall health like the prevention of diabetes, relief of pain, as an antifungal or antibacterial agent or anthelmintic agent, prevent liver diseases, weight loss, prevention of ulcers, etc.
Superfoods such as yam, sweet potato, and cassava are becoming increasingly popular in new-age restaurants. Instead of potatoes, they are also being used in making chips and snacks. Not only in India, but in many parts of the world, are these tubers considered a superfood, which came in handy to feed humans in difficult times.
It is believed that eating it on the day of Diwali brings happiness and prosperity to the family as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth herself resides inside this tuber. What could be the reason behind this belief? My guess is that the yam or yam plant grows easily in the soil. It does not require much water. The tuber also spreads easily, so it is associated with fertility and prosperity. There is never any shortage of this vegetable once it is grown and it fulfills all your needs.
So, this Diwali, while cooking jimmikand in rich gravy or various dishes of it; thank the gift of mother earth and pray that the coming year brings prosperity in everyone's life. “Happy Diwali to all of you!”
Dr. Atul Madhao Pradhan
School of Agriculture
SAGE University, Bhopal (M.P.)